Friday morning kicked off the first of eight events for the 2013 Oakley Surf Shop Challenge at Seaside Reef in Cardiff. Fourteen teams showed up determined to claim local bragging rights along with an expense-paid trip to Bali to compete for the $10,000 grand prize and the National Championship.
Within the Southwest region, three teams stood out heading into the event. Hansen's (2010 and 2011 regional champs), Sun Diego Carlsbad (long time runner-up), and Surf Ride Oceanside (last years winner), would all be in contention for this year's title. The morning high tide started the day off slowly, but competitors still had very contestable surf in the 2-3 foot range with some softer lines on the outside. The fourteen teams were divided into three heats, awarding the highest five team scores a spot in the Final.
Pacific Drive and Rusty Del Mar stood out during the early heats, posting total heat scores in the high twenties. In the end, it was Surf Ride Oceanside, Rusty Del Mar, Pacific Drive, Sun Diego Carlsbad, and Surf Ride Solana Beach advancing into the final heat.
As the teams waxed up their boards and slipped on their jerseys for the Final, the gloom thinned and the sun shone bright for spectators and competitors. A dropping tide produced consistent shoulder high sets lining up all the way to the inside. Sun Diego's momentum carried straight into the Final, where team rider Ricky Whitlock started off strong with the highest heat score of the day, a 9.0. Each team whammied at least a seven-point ride throughout the heat, including Dayton Silva's (Surf Ride SB) high score for two backside blasts. Sun Diego was in the lead as the last surfers hit the water, but Surf Ride Oceanside employee Brent Reilly would change that. Reilly's first wave was a 3.10 that put Surf Ride Oceanside into the lead by a mere .59 with six minutes remaining. Time was becoming a factor as everyone realized that the event would conclude in nail-biting fashion.
"If we were going to have someone crunched on time as the last surfer in the water, we definitely wanted it to be Brent," said Aaron Coyle, shop manager at Surf Ride Oceanside. In the dying minutes Brent tore apart a reeling left hander, earning a score that ensured their victory. "I was gunning for an eight or higher," said Reilly. "It was a little nerve-wracking, but I probably wasn't as nervous as I should have been with Bali on the line." Sun Diego's (Carlsbad) Pedro Fernandez managed to fit one last wave before the horn, but it wouldn't be enough to combat Reilly's high 6-point ride.
Surf Ride Oceanside will meet six other teams in Bali in June. The Southeast regional is the next event in the OSSC, at Ponce Inlet, Florida on April 9-10.
- Surf Ride Oceanside
- Sun Diego Carlsbad
- Surf Ride Solana Beach
- Rusty Del Mar
- Pacific Drive